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Wast Water - Wander
Wast Water - Scafells
Wast Water
Patterdale - Helvellyn
Black Sail youth hostel and a glimpse of Great Gable
Black Sail Youth Hostel and a glimpse of Great Gable (centre)
Kirkby Stephen
Danby Wiske
Ingleby Cross
Clay Bank
Lion Inn

This is a day of contrasts with easy, open walking along the side of Ennerdale Water, more easy but enclosed travel through forests and then the wide open fells at the dale head bordered by mountains. The usual route climbs over Honister Pass and down into Borrowdale. However I felt that it was a pity to miss the opportunity to scale the Scafell peaks when they were so close and so walked over Black Sail Pass over to Wasdale.

Ennerdale Bridge Type Phone
The Cloggers B&B 01946 862487
6 Ehen Garth B&B 01946 861917
Ennerdale YH 0870 770 5820
Far Moor End B&B 01946 861046
Low Cock How Farm B&B & bunkhouse 01946 861354
Shepherd's Arms Hotel Hotel 01946 861249
Kirkland (2 kilometres from Ennnerdale Bridge
Ennerdale View B&B 01946 862311

Leave Ennerdale Bridge village on the Croasdale road and turn right at Broadmoor Plantation where indicated (there is a small sign pointing the way to the lake) onto the zigzag road towards the lakeshore. When the road ends, a path leads between 2 houses and onto a broad track down to the lakeside and the south shore footpath. The shore is followed closely with some nice rocky patches below Anglers Crag before the wild, natural woods of Side Wood are entered. About 6 kilometres from the village, the head of the lake is reached and the path slants over fields to a forest road on the other side of the valley (crossing the River Liza by a footbridge).

Pillar Rock and Pillar
Pillar Rock and Pillar

The road is followed to the right past Low Gillerthwaite (a field centre) and High Gillerthwaite (a youth hostel) and into the depths of Ennerdale Forest. For the next 5 kilometres, there is easy and fast walking along the forest road with a few chances to look through gaps in the forest cover to the surrounding slopes. Keep an eye out on the other side of the valley for the grand tower of Pillar Rock that gives Pillar its name - the low cloud on this day made the tower especially prominent.

About 300 metres after the youth hostel, there is the first chance for a high-level detour. A path departs to the left through a break in the forest. This climbs steadily and then crosses a stream. More climbing follows up to the top of the northern ridge at Red Pike (755m) with a total ascent of 600m from the forest road. There are great views into the next valley with its lakes - Crummock Water and Buttermere. Practically under your feet is the high Bleaberry Tarn. To the west the ridge goes over the bump of Little Dodd to Starling Dodd and then Great Borne before descending into the coastal plain. Your route lies to the east where a path keeps entertainingly close to the edge of the northern crags. The southern slopes are also steep with fewer crags but more scree. The next top traversed is High Stile (805m) followed by High Crag (744m) and Seat (561m). There is a final descent to Scarth Gap Pass (3.5 exciting kilometres from Red Pike) and another access point from the forest road. Another climb winds through crags to the well-guarded summit of Haystacks (597m) with its scattered collection of tarns. A path can be picked up here to skirt around above Blackburn Tarn and pick up the Coast to Coast Walk at the head of Loft Beck.

The low-level Coast to Coast Walk leaves the road when it makes a sharp right turn down to the river and emerges from the forest through a gate. A broad path takes you straight to the Black Sail Youth Hostel, an old shepherd's bothy now converted into Lakeland's most isolated youth hostel. This is a great place for lunch with the youth hostel providing shelter in inclement weather and the mountains providing inspiration in just about any weather. If the weather had been a touch clearer, I would have been tempted to continue along the Coast to Coast Walk to the junction with Moses Trod so that I could have a look at the view down into Buttermere (and then going back along the trod into Wasdale). Instead I took the more direct route over Black Sail Pass.

To get to the pass, take the main path that descends to the Liza and a footbridge over the river. Unfortunately I don't have the map that I used from this point until I got to Grasmere (4 days away). So my descriptions of the route are going to be a bit vague. From the footbridge, the path climbs steadily up to the pass with the craggy shoulders of Kirkfell moving around to hide Great Gable and the view along the Coast to Coast Walk. The top of the pass is a bit of a crossroads with a thin track crossing from the left (from Kirkfell) and heading up the right-hand slopes towards Pillar. The broad path quickly drops down from the pass into the valley leading to Wasdale Head (not visible yet) with the crags of Red Pike ahead of you. Soon the valley bends to your left and the green fields at the head of Wast Water appear to give incentive to your feet.

At the foot of the valley, the path enters the tiny hamlet of Wasdale Head between a row of houses and the Wasdale Inn - these are just about the only houses in the dale except for a few isolated farmhouses. Accommodation choices are few with a couple of B&B's, rooms at the inn and a nice camping field across from the inn. I chose the camping field (after all if I was to tote my tent all the way across England then I might as well get some use out of it) despite the large number of people already camped there. I had my meals at the inn and can recommend their Cumberland sausage which is a proper walkers meal with a gigantic link of tasty sausage nearly filling the plate.

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